Mario Fux

Posts Tagged ‘education’

One year ago…

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

… I finally got my diploma for a study that took much longer than I first thought ;-) . But then with the knife at my throat (the old study model ran out and thus it was my last chance to finish) and great support of friends and family I found the time and energy to successfully finish and get my Master’s degree. The title of my diploma thesis was “Media Choice and the Media-Synchronicity-Theory – Development of an Instrument for the Study of selected Elements of MST for Free Software Communities” and here you find its English abstract:

This paper will analyse the media choice and media usage of Free Software communities and hence to draw conclusions for a more successful deployment of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) in the area of education and school. After a history of ten years of CSCL in action, relevant failures and possible causes, we develop a questionnaire on the foundation of the Theory of Media Synchronicity from Dennis et al. (2008). The acertained data will be evaluated regarding the daily media usage on the one hand and the media choice in specific situations on the other hand. Additionally we are going to compare the data with the data of the study of Miller (2014) about "learning strategies and new media".
To validate the ideas of a more successful deployment of CSCL two concrete hypotheses will be established: 1. the characteristics in media usage und choice in Free Software communities and the preferred choice of asynchronous media when being longer within the community, and 2. the importance of email as communication media in these communities. The acertained data and its evaluation do not confirm the first hypothesis. But there are lots of results that confirm the second hypothesis.

Unfortunately this is the only English part of the diploma thesis besides the questionnaire. With this questionnaire I collected some data through a survey. Thanks everybody for participating in this survey and yesterday I finally informed the two lucky winners about their prices.

A paper that might be more interesting for you is the one about “KDE as an example of a Free Software community” from a social-educational perspective. In the appendix you find 9 longish IRC interviews with different people from the KDE community. There you might find some interesting insights and different perspectives.

PS: Oh and one of my sons has his birthday today so: Happy birthday little b.

Randa and the Importance of Code Sprints for Open Source Hobbyists

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Guest blog by Holger Kaelberer (GCompris):

This year I will participate at the Randa Meetings for the second time. The last year was a great experience and I am really grateful that there was this opportunity to get in touch with the KDE community as a new developer of the recently incubated QtQuick port of the GCompris project.

As Randa is mostly financed by donations, it is obvious that this opens the door for students and hackers, that don’t have the financial means to join such an event. Working full time I can afford to pay my travel costs myself and personally I see the benefit of code sprint events first of all in the time, they give you for your project. Before talking a bit about what I plan to work on this year at Randa let me say some words on the importance that such code sprinting events have to open source hobbyist like me.

The Neglected Feature Branches

As probably many people involved in open source software development I work full time as a software developer and hack on open source software in my free time, because I dreamed the dream of making my hobby and my passion my job.

But — ay, there’s the rub!

When you come home after 8, 9, 10 hours of concentrated work on source code, maybe project controlled and sometimes under time pressure you can imagine that there is not much passion left for more hours doing the same activity. Of course, there are the weekends, that leave you more time for your own projects, unless you spend them with your friends or your family and your children, that you don’t see a lot during the week. So, this dream sometimes turns into frustration about not having enough time for what you really want to do. The concrete victims of the lack of time for your hobby are a bunch of uncompleted feature branches that have been started driven by a great idea, but slowly forgotten in the highs and lows of everyday life.

Now you can imagine that a whole week of time available exclusively for these feature branches brings a big smile to my face :-)

Now to the concrete feature branches I plan to work on this year in Randa:

Balancebox and Box2D in GCompris

The first one, balancebox, is about a new activity in GCompris I started last winter, that introduces a 2D physics engine in GCompris. The idea of the activity itself is simple and should probably placed in the “Fun” section of GCompris. The user is supposed to navigate a ball through a labyrinth of walls populated with holes and numbered buttons to a door by tilting his device. The numbered buttons have to be hit in the correct order to unlock the door. This obviously mainly targets mobile devices that provide sensoric information about device rotation (on desktop platforms tilting is simulated by using keypresses) and addresses fine motor skills as well as basic numeric counting capacities of the child.

After having experimented a bit with self written code for collision detection needed for collision dynamics between walls and the navigated ball, which becomes more difficult with complex, non-rectangular objects, I evaluated different libraries doing this work for me. I ended up with the QML bindings of the well known 2D physics engine Box2D by Erin Catto. As all activities in GCompris are developed only in QML and Javascript, those QML bindings integrate perfectly well with only a few wrapper elements. A bit of work had to be done to scale down the optimal dimensions of Box2D world objects (which are tuned to real world dimensions of 0.1 to 10 meters) to the smaller dimensions of my balancebox by calculating an appropriate scale-factor. But once done, the engine does a good job.

Once integrated, a 2D physics engine opens the door for a variety of other activities that cope with real world physics. As a next step I plan to use Box2D also for porting the Land safe activity from the Gtk+ version, where the player has to land a rocket smoothly on planet surfaces with different gravitational forces.

I am looking forward to discuss the possibility to use Step (or more precisely stepcore), KDE’s physics simulator, as an alternative physics engine with other members of the KDE Edu team in Randa.

Desktop-to-Mobile Notifications in KDE Connect

Besides working on GCompris, I’d like to benefit from my week at Randa by coming a bit closer to the KDE Connect code-base, that is still pretty new to me. Since using KDE’s Plasma on the desktop I discovered KDE Connect as a really useful tool in everyday work and use is mainly for file-transfer and notification synchronization.

A feature I missed in everyday use so far was the synchronization of notifications in the other direction: from desktop to mobile. Thus you can get notified e.g. of incoming messages of your jabber/IRC client when away from keyboard or whatever event that is not available on the mobile side. First I hacked around that by implementing a small wrapper that proxied all Notify calls on my desktop’s DBus org.freedesktop.Notification interface using a kdeconnect ping-message to my mobile device.

This was the beginning of another pair of feature branches, that integrated this feature directly into kdeconnect-kde core and kdeconnect-android, resp. The code is mostly working already, although there are some issues with specific Android-versions. As KDE Connect is one of the major topics this year in Randa, there will be the right place for resolving these missing bits and discuss some more questions regarding configuration of the notifications module directly with the KDE Connect developers there.

The Randa Meetings will start next week, enough time for you to help making it happen by donating to the still running fundraiser campaign:

A big “Thank you!” to all donors and the organizer(s) of this event!

Count downs: T -10 hours, -12 days, -30 days, -95 days

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

It’s already for quite some time that I wanted to write this blog post and as soon one of the fundraisers I’d like to mention is over I finally took the time to write this now:

So the first fundraiser I’d like to write about is the Make Krita faster than Photoshop Kickstarter campaign. It’s almost over and is already a success but that doesn’t mean you can’t still become a supporter of this awesome painting application. And for the case you shouldn’t have seen it there was a series of interviews with Krita users (and thus users of KDE software) you should have read at least in part.

The second crowd funding campaign I’d like to mention is about the board game Heldentaufe. It’s a bit a family thing as this campaign (and thus the board game) is mostly done by a brother-in-law of mine. He worked on this project for several years – it started as his master thesis. And I must say it looks really nice (don’t know if the French artist used Krita as well) and is “simple to learn, but difficult to master”. So if you like board games go and support it.

And the third fundraiser it’d like to talk about is one of our friends from Kolab. They plan to refactor and improve one of the most successful pieces of webmail software. And as everybody here should be aware how important email is, I hope that every reader of this blog post will go to their Indiegogo page and give at least 10$.

So some of you might ask now: and what about the -95 days? In 95 days the 6th edition of the Randa Meetings will start. And as I’m sure it will become a very successful edition again and a lot of people want to come to Randa and work there as hard as they can and we want to help them with sponsoring their travel costs we plan another fundraiser for this and other KDE sprints in general. So if you would like to help us don’t hesitate and write me an email (fux AT kde org) or ping me on IRC.

UPDATE: As the first comment mentions the Heldentaufe Kickstarter was cancelled this morning and you can read about the reason on the latest update. But I’m optimistic that there will be a second fundraiser campaign in the future and if you’re interested about it don’t hesitate to write me an email and I’ll ping you when the new campaign starts.

Last chance to register for the Randa Meetings 2015

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Konqi - the KDE mascot in the Randa Meetings edition

If you are interested in participating in this year’s Randa Meetings and want to have a chance to be financially supported to travel to Randa then the last 24 hours of the registration period just began.

So it’s now or never – or maybe next year.

You can come to the Randa Meetings 2015 – Please register now

Monday, April 13th, 2015

The dates for the sixth edition of the Randa Meetings are set: Sunday, 6th to Sunday 13th of September 2015. The first Sunday will be the day of arrival and the last Sunday accordingly the day of departure.

So what about you? If you know about Qt and touch gesture support, want to bring your KDE application to Android and Co, plan to work on KDE infrastructure for mobile systems, are a UI or UX designer for mobile and touch interfaces, want to make your software more accessible or just want to work on your already ported KDE application please register as soon as possible on our Sprints page.

The registration is open until the 13th of May 2015. Please add your estimated travel cost and what you plan to work on in Randa this September. You don’t need to include any accommodation costs as we organize this for you (see the Randa Meetings wiki page for further information about the building). After this date we will present a budget and work on a fundraiser (together with you) to make it possible for as many people as possible to come to Randa.

If there are any questions or further ideas don’t hesitate to contact me via email or on IRC in #randa.

Last chance to vote on the date for the Randa Meetings 2015

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

We plan to close the Doodle for the Randa Meetings date selection at the end of this week. So if you plan to participate please vote on the date that best fits you! And keep in mind two things:

  • You might bring your partner or family with you to Randa. We started this last year and people really liked it (and Randa is a nice holiday place in the Alps too – near to the world-known Zermatt).
  • If you see a lot of well-known names on the Doodle don’t think you shouldn’t be part of this. We always want to see new people with fresh energy and inspiring thoughts and ideas in Randa.

So please add yourself as quickly as possible or write me an email (fux AT kde) or ping me on IRC (unormal).


Participate in the date selection for the Randa Meetings 2015

Monday, March 9th, 2015

I’m close to being back to KDE joy and work. Just one last exam on Thursday and I’m done with my final exams. But let’s concentrate on the subject.

For the topic of the Randa Meetings this year it’s planned to focus on tablet/smartphone and touch platforms and make our software fit for them (e.g. touch ui for Kdenlive or Android CI) and work further on already adapted software (e.g. KDE Connect, GCompris or KPhotoAlbum). And e.g. the Visual Design Group of KDE might help to design these new UIs (e.g. a tablet-ui for KRecipes where you can recook all the great dishes of the recent Randa Meetings ;-) or make them better. Or what are your ideas for this topic?

So if you think you should be part of this endeavour and you want to come to Randa this year please go to Doodle and select the start date that fits you best. The dates that can be selected are the possible start dates of the respective Randa Meetings. Just add another 6 days till you need to leave Randa again ;-) .

Oh and please forward this information to potential other participants and people you think should come as well.

Third CI IRC meeting and more

Monday, January 5th, 2015

There was another successful IRC meeting about KDE CI before xmas and you can read about it in the summary. For our third meeting we’d like to do another Doodle to get as many people from as many timezones as possible.

And in general we’re making quite some progress. Most of the work is currently done for a QStandardPaths upstream patch to get our apps running under MacOSX and Windows and there is even more to read about the amazing work our SoK student Scarlett Clark is doing.

Oh and don’t forget to help our new member GCompris to get some new looks.

Randa Fundraiser: The countdown is ticking

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Just some more hours and the Randa Meetings 2014 fundraiser will close. It will end at 23.59 UTC, afterwards you need to go to the normal KDE donation page to support us ;-) . So may I ask you one last time this year to help us and give something. It’s high time and we can still achieve a big jump on the progress bar with your help!

In the picture below you see the group photo of the Randa Meetings 2011 in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. The year and place when the KDE Frameworks 5 planning and work started which achieved an interim stop with the first stable release yesterday. Some great (KConfig, KArchive, Sonnet, ThreadWeaver, etc.) Qt addons for you Qt developers and for many different platforms.

Jigsaw puzzle of the group picture 2011

Jigsaw puzzle of the group picture 2011

And guess what we plan to work on this year in Randa? Porting even more KDE applications to KDE Frameworks 5. The KDE Edu group will be there too and will port its collection of educational software to KF5. Software for kids and people that want to learn and understand the world. Understand why it’s important to be free in your decision to choose the tools you use to create great things and communicate it to the world. All these are things we work on for your and our freedom.

So take a look at your wallet and give what you can and thus help to make another great edition of the Randa Meetings possible where we create even better software for you.

10 more days – we can do it

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

The Randa Meetings 2014 fundraiser is quite successful and I want to thank everybody who already donated or supported us. But there is still some time till the 9th of July and thus we have still some time to convince more people for this good cause.

So please, remove the dust from your blog or social media account and spread the word and convince your friends and environment to give something. Just ask them politely and the worst you get is a “no”.

You can tell everybody that they will get even better KDE software, software that runs on almost all platforms and in the future on even more and software that everybody can use and share. Concretely this means that at the end of September 2014 you will get an updated KDE Book that helps you to work with KDE Frameworks 5, a more stable Kdenlive, a first port of KMyMoney to KF5, a glimpse at Amarok 3, another beta of GCompris based on Qt, a reinvigorated Gluon Games Framework, at least a first idea of the KDE SDK and much more. Isn’t that worth it?

And we will try something new this year at Randa to keep you, dear supporter, better informed about what happens at the meetings. Everyday you can check this work page and see in a short and concise form what everybody has done and achieved.

So thanks for donating, spreading the word and supporting us!